We all want to create the best resume possible, which means keeping up to date with current resume trends and recruiter expectations. But there is some mixed advice out there about whether or not to include quotes on your resume.
Quotes and testimonials are great additions to an online portfolio, but do they have a place on your regular resume? And will they hinder or help your application if you choose to include them?
Should you include quotes on your resume?
The short answer is no, you should not include quotes on your standard ‘paper’ resume.
Though quotes might initially seem like a good idea, they use up valuable space on your resume that is better utilized to showcase hard skills and achievements. Recruiters generally spend only 7 seconds scanning an applicant’s resume, so every word should provide detailed information about your skills and experience.
Quotes are nothing more than opinions. At the initial stages of the hiring process, a recruiter is more interested in quantifiable, data-driven information than subjective opinions.
How can using quotes harm your chances of getting an interview?
Beyond simply taking up space, quotes can negatively impact your application if included in a standard professional resume.
Quotes can interfere with ATS
Many companies use ATS software to scan applicants' resumes and filter out those failing to meet their predetermined criteria. Optimizing your resume for ATS is one step to ensure your application makes it into the hands of the recruiter.
If your resume is filled with quotes, it can be harder for the ATS software to find the necessary information and keywords, and their automatic system might accidentally reject you. To ensure this doesn’t happen, use an ATS template when creating your resume and run your final resume through our Resume Scanner to ensure the software can find your relevant information.
Quotes make your resume too long
The optimal resume is one page long, two at most, making it easier for a recruiter to skim-read your resume and highlight your appropriate skills. Quotes take up space without providing the same level of detail as a well-constructed power phrase or action verb, making it more likely for a recruiter to stop reading.
Quotes are subjective
Though a previous employer’s recommendation can be very beneficial in certain situations, a quote is simply someone else’s opinion of your work. Opinions are subjective, meaning they mean different things to different people and are, therefore, hard for a recruiter to quantify in any meaningful way.
A recruiter is interested in opinions when they contact your references, not before, which is a specific stage in the hiring process that only some applicants will get to. Providing these kinds of quotes upfront is not beneficial and will only make the critical information on your resume harder to find at a glance.
Quotes can not be verified on a standard resume
Quotes on a resume hold very little value to a recruiter as they are easily manipulated, taken out of context, or fabricated. Even if a recruiter is impressed by a quote, they have no assurance that the quote is accurate.
When using online platforms, quotes can be linked back to the original source, giving them far more credibility. This is not the case on a standard ‘paper’ resume. Though a recruiter could contact your quoted source to see if the quote is accurate, it is far more likely they will take the quote with a grain of salt.
Alternatives to using quotes on your resume
Instead of using quotes on your resume, highlight your skills and experience in a way that will catch a recruiter's attention and make it as easy as possible for them to see that you're the right candidate for the position.
- Quantify your experience wherever possible with numbers, statistics, and measurable results. For example, instead of saying that you “improved sales”, state that you “increased sales by 25% by improving the customer interface”.
- Use power phrases to expand on your experience by combining a strong action verb with a task or project and a quantifiable metric. This creates a strong statement that tells the recruiter what they need to know while still being impressive and memorable.
- List specific hard skills and keywords that recruiters are looking for in your industry. Find hard skills relevant to each application using a keyword finder, and include these keywords on your resume.
- List industry-specific qualifications and certificates, including the completion date and training provider if relevant.
If you want to share a past employer’s impression during an application, include it in a separate referral letter or letter of recommendation. List the name and contact information of the source so your potential employer can contact them regarding their statements.
When are quotes beneficial for job seekers?
Just because quotes are not generally a wise addition to a standard resume, they can be highly beneficial in other areas of the job-seeking process.
Using quotes online
One place where quotes shine is on online job boards and digital resume platforms, such as Linked In, UpWork, Indeed, or Monster.
Including quotes on online platforms, such as a LinkedIn recommendation, is far more beneficial than on your standard resume, as your previous clients and employers can write their own statements, giving their words weight and credibility in the eyes of a recruiter. The employer can also link their online platform to the quote, proving that their statement is from a verifiable reference.
This accountability makes quotes a great addition to online platforms and a brilliant way of optimizing your LinkedIn page.
Quotes and testimonials are also highly beneficial for freelancers, especially testimonials from previous clients. It is common practice to include testimonials in an online freelance portfolio to showcase a list of previous clients and their positive impression of your work.
Even if you are not a freelancer, consider including testimonials and quotes on your website to showcase your skills and back up your resume with positive client or employer feedback.
Tips on how to include quotes on a resume
If you do choose to include a quote on your resume, the quote should be brief - one or two lines max - to ensure it doesn’t take up too much space or detract from the rest of your resume.
Your quote should be enclosed in quotation marks and italicized to make it clearly visible as a quote. Generally, quotes should be included in your work experience section or an additional section at the end of your resume.
List the name and title of the person you are quoting; managers and direct supervisors are the best sources to use for quotes. Use quotes on your resume that specifically mention your skills, qualifications, abilities, or achievements; or include keywords listed in the job description. This will help your resume beat the ATS system and show a recruiter why the quote you have included is relevant to them.
Here is an example of how to include a quote on your resume:
"Jamie improved sales through customer focused initiatives and confidently led our team of 20 employees to increase productivity and employee engagement. A brilliant addition to our team” John Baker, Sales Department Manager, 123 Sales Inc.